Somerville, Mary (1780–1872)

Mary somerville, writer on science, was born Mary Fairfax on December 26, 1780, in Jedburgh, Roxburghshire, Scotland. She grew up in Burntisland, Fife, where she studied on her own, despite her father's discouragement. In 1804, she married her cousin, Samuel Greig (1778–1807). They moved to London, where Mary continued to study mathematics and took French lessons. She had two sons with whom she returned to Burntisland after Greig's death in 1807.

Now a widow of independent means, Mary used family connections to enter Edinburgh social and intellectual circles, receiving instruction by correspondence. In 1812, she married another cousin, William Somerville (1771–1860), an army doctor with an active interest in science who, unlike her first husband, encouraged her studies. In 1816 the Somervilles and their two daughters ...

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